Ball State University is hosting 15 Uzbek college students, ages 18-24, and one Uzbek faculty member, June 15-July 6 as part of a new exchange program this Summer.

For those 21 days, the visiting youth will learn and work alongside Ball State students in interdisciplinary, cross-cultural student teams. The teams will explore careers in government, education, community organization and development, and socially responsible business. Then, they will apply classroom knowledge to develop and execute collaborative projects that make an impact in the community.

The project, U.S./Uzbekistan Network and International Exchange for Development (UNITED), was developed by Ball State’s Teachers College faculty Dr. David Roof, associate professor of Educational Studies; and Dr. Rachel Geesa, associate clinical professor of Educational Leadership. UNITED was funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of State. UNITED also involved Ball State faculty traveling to Uzbekistan last Fall to deliver seminars about the project and building relationships between the U.S. and Uzbekistan.

“This project will make a valuable contribution to relationships between two strategically important countries,” said Dr. Roof, the project’s co-principal investigator. “This program will also enhance academic cooperation between the United States and Uzbekistan—two democratic partner countries which share common goals and aspirations.”

As part of UNITED, Dr. Geesa and other Ball State faculty and community partners will teach students about key concepts related to civics and guide them through hands-on projects that challenge students to apply their knowledge to benefit the community.

“This is an exciting opportunity for Ball State to participant in an international partnership with students and faculty from Uzbekistan,” said Dr. Geesa, a co-principal investigator for the project. “While at Ball State, Uzbek students will participate in and explore various ways to promote community partnerships, global engagement, and leadership strategies to share in Uzbekistan.”

Ball State’s Digital Corps may support the interdisciplinary student teams with digital elements of their projects, including website design and development, public relations, and social media strategy. The UNITED project also coordinates with Ball State’s Office of Student Life. The Uzbek and Ball State students will engage in a full spectrum of leadership activities and service, according to Kara Westfall, associate director of Student Life.

Campus and community members involved in the project—including Dr. Susan Luo, International Program Coordinator at Rinker Center for Global Affairs and associate ESL teaching professor at the Intensive English Institute; and Kate Elliott, a Ball State lecturer of Journalism. Dr. Luo will be the project manager. Ms. Elliott will share information about media literacy.